NICOLA Sturgeon has responded to criticism that she chose to leave a four nations call with the UK Government for the daily coronavirus briefing.

The First Minister announced during the briefing, which begins at 12.15pm every weekday, that she had to leave the call where the UK Government was briefing devolved administrations about the UK's roadmap out of pandemic restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to set out details of the plans to lift lockdown rules in England later today with Sturgeon saying that these will be "broadly similar" to the Scottish Government's approach, which will be set out tomorrow afternoon in Holyrood.

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Responding to a question from the Scottish Sun about why she did not stay on the call, Sturgeon said: "I do this briefing every day. I wasn't in charge of the timing. We pointed out that I do this briefing when a call was scheduled for quarter to 12, I joined it for as long as I could, consistent with my regular commitments because if I hadn't turned up here today, no doubt you would have asked that. The call was only set up I think yesterday and I am represented on the call by officials when I am not there.

"I wasn't in charge of the timing. I went to it for as long as I could. It wasn't a discussion about - as I understand it - what we were all doing, it was a report on what the Prime Minister was about to announce. 

"People will criticise me for whatever I do in relation to the UK Government so I'm just going to do what I think is right and what discharges my responsibilities to the best of my ability."

The First Minister said that Johnson is likely to set out a “careful and cautious” way forward, which she welcomed, adding it is “vital that we learn from past experiences”.

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However, the Scottish Tories were not satisfied that Sturgeon missed part of the briefing with a spokesman for the party saying: “It will raise more than a few eyebrows that Nicola Sturgeon’s priority is the BBC briefing over working together constructively with other governments.

“She missed a pivotal discussion in favour of a TV appearance where nothing was announced. It shows the value that the SNP leader puts on these BBC briefings in the run-up to the election in May.

“We continue to be in favour of the briefings continuing, fronted solely by public health officials who would not miss vital discussions or misuse the platform to make political points.”